With spring in swing, it’s the time to welcome warm weather but also a bounty of new ingredients — like spicy radishes, buttery lettuces and beans and sweet peas. Which means you can give your spice rack a break and make natural flavors ...
On Food Network’s new show Kitchen Casino, Mondays at 9|8c, host Bill Rancic doles out gambling-themed games to chefs competing to win the $30,000 jackpot. Bill isn’t new to television. He got his start as the first winner of The Apprentice, and he and his wife star in their reality show Giuliana and Bill. When he’s not busy in front of the camera or looking after the restaurant group he’s a part owner of, behind the scenes Bill’s a simple guy who loves simple food.
Bill knows his way around a kitchen, and he loves cooking Italian food. He does admit that he has had some not-so proud moments in the kitchen, but that hasn’t lessened his appreciation for food or stopped him from trying new things. You might be surprised to learn that he got started in the food business at the age of 10, when he had his own secret restaurant at home — and he’s been a savvy businessman and foodie ever since.
Get to know Bill Rancic better in FN Dish’s exclusive interview.
Veg Out: Do you like vegetables? So does the guy who wrote this rap. Singer-songwriter Parry Gripp and animator Yusuf Iqbal have teamed up to bring the world “I Like Vegetables.” Sample lyrics: “Call Dr. Phil and warn Oprah. I’m gonna eat up all of the okra! I’m notorious. I’m nefarious. I don’t spare one spear of asparagus.” Listen, laugh and then go out there and get crazy on a Brussels sprout. [Parry Gripp via Mashable]
Everything but the Grill? Finally, the long winter is over and it’s getting on toward grill season. If you’re shopping for a new grill on which to cook your meat, fish or veggies (perhaps some nefarious asparagus?) and looking for guidance, AmazingRibs.com, a website dedicated to “the science of BBQ and grilling,” has doled out its Best Value Awards to the 10 charcoal grills, 10 gas grills and 10 backyard smokers it considers the “best of breed in their price category.” Helpful. And once you get your grill, you’ll for sure want to check out Food Network’s Grilling Central and FN Dish Grilling and BBQ posts for recipes and ideas to get you fired up. [AmazingRibs.com via Huffington Post]
Part eatery and part entertainment space, Urban Roots in Oklahoma City, Okla., offered little in the way of quality food when Robert Irvine arrived. He found jumbled dishes and a weak staff, plus owner Chaya Fletcher, who was struggling to maintain her interest in her job. With only two days to work and a budget of just $10,000, Robert and his Restaurant: Impossible team transformed the interior of Urban Roots and updated the menu, ultimately reopening the business to a packed house. Read on below to hear from Chaya and find out how Urban Roots is doing today.
“Since the taping, revenue is up 15 percent,” Chaya says. “Customers are really happy with the design and love the new menu changes.” She adds that both food and entertainment are now proving to attract customers.
FN Dish is counting down until the premiere of America’s Best Cook on Sunday at 9|8c. On the new show, four Food Network chefs representing the four regions of the United States mentor teams of exceptional home cooks in a competition to find America’s best cook. The winner walks away with the title and $50,000 in prize money. But which region will that winner be from? It could be North, South, East or West. The final result will be a testament to the mentor who coached the winner. Ahead of the premiere, FN Dish spoke with each of the mentors to find out more about the competition, mentoring strategies, what makes a good home cook and more.
On America’s Best Cook, Michael Symon is representing the North. After growing up in Ohio and opening his restaurant there, Michael has the knowledge and experience to lead his team of home cooks. There are many cultural backgrounds in the region, and Michael’s going to make sure that those unique flavors are well represented. Over the years Michael has looked up to Jonathan Waxman as a mentor, and he’s hoping to impart to his home cooks that same passion he learned coming up as a chef.
For this week’s Chopped Dinner Challenge, the chefs of Food Network Kitchen chose to feature the basket ingredient of hearts of palm. Readily available canned, hearts of palm are the tender inner cores of palm trees — though only certain less fibrous varieties of palm are harvested. The taste is delicate and similar to artichokes, but their long cylindrical shape resembles white asparagus. They’re crunchy when raw and typically used in salads, but this Hearts of Palm Parm recipe does something different: It cooks the hearts in a tomato sauce, turning them soft and even more flavorful. Whether you’re a vegetarian or a fan of chicken or eggplant Parmesan looking for a different take on the dish, give this one a try.
After pulling on your Sunday best and competing in an old-fashioned, fight-to-the-death Easter egg hunt, chances are you’ll have worked up a serious appetite. Put leftover Easter eggs or hard-boiled fresh ones to use in a festive egg salad perfect for your Sunday brunch. Creamy in all the right ways, it does wonders served on a sandwich, over greens or simply on its own. Whipping it together is as easy as this step-by-step how-to.
Quinoa Gets a Seat at the Seder Table: Those who adhere to the traditional dietary laws of Passover by avoiding the grains wheat, rye, barley, oats and spelt, and swapping leavened bread for matzo, may be interested to know that they have a new option this year: quinoa. For the first time, the Orthodox Union, the authority on all things kosher, has given its “kosher for Passover” seal of approval to certain brands of the ubiquitous superfood. “It’s healthy and tasty, and there’s nothing wrong with eating it on Passover,” rabbi, food historian and cookbook author Gil Marks told NPR’s The Salt. He recommends making stuffed cabbage with quinoa — or using it in matzo ball soup for “protein and body.” It goes well with your grandma’s brisket too. [NPR's The Salt]
What the Fork? Montreal-based MOLECULE-R Flavors Inc. is now marketing a “revolutionary new fork” that emits a scent to make users think they’re eating flavors like ginger, coffee, chocolate or bananas — or, for that matter, lychee, passion fruit, jalapeno, wasabi or truffle. It’s perfect, its maker maintains, for cooks who accidentally forget to add a key ingredient while cooking. “It works by having a capsule of ‘liquid aroma’ underneath the fork’s handle, which is then soaked through a small circle of blotting paper and released gradually as the owner eats their meal,” the company explains in a video introducing the Aromafork. “The user has to apply the ‘taste’ each time using a dropper and put a piece of blotting paper in place.” And you thought the spork pushed the boundaries of good taste. [Molecule-R via Huffington Post]
With more than seven seasons’ worth of Restaurant: Impossible renovations behind him, Robert Irvine has seen all manner of filth in eatery kitchens, encountered interior decor ranging from the plain and simple to the cluttered and confused, and met owners who have welcomed him wholeheartedly and those who have fought to accept his expertise. He sticks to his goal of transforming businesses and improving lives no matter how difficult the mission, but surely some updates have proved more shocking, some owners more demanding and some reveals more emotional.
Browse insider photos to look back on some of the most-unforgettable challenges Robert has faced on Restaurant: Impossible, then hear from the owners of those eateries to find out how their businesses are faring today.